Bare Root Season Has Arrived!

Winter marks the beginning of bare root fruit tree season! In the Bay Area, winter is an excellent opportunity to start or add to your home orchard.

During the early months of the New Year, bare root trees arrive at local retail nurseries and are available at a significant cost savings compared to potted trees. They are sold with their bare roots exposed. A wide variety of trees are available in dwarf- and semi-dwarf forms for easy care and harvesting.

Plant these trees while they're still in their winter dormant period. Their root systems will get established over the winter months (and with any luck, Mother Nature will take care of the watering chores), and awaken and thrive in the spring. Most trees will bear fruit the next year!

Winter Organic Gardening: Put Your Beds to Bed with Cover Crops

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After tomatoes and other summer veggies are finished in the garden, revitalize your soil by growing cover crops. Take advantage of the annual rains by planting these low-maintenance garden helpers. Cover crops improve your soil when the garden rests over the winter months by:

  • Supressing weeds
  • Preventing erosion
  • Breaking up clay soils
  • Increasing fertility
  • Adding organic matter

In addition, cover crops attract pollinators and other beneficial insects and increase the biodiversity in the garden. Common cover crops include fava beans, vetch, clover, alfalfa, peas, oats, wheat and daikon radish. Pollinate Farm & Garden offers these seeds as well as a popular cool season mix that does it all!

Working with cover crop is simple:

  1. Sow cover crops after the first rains of the season.
  2. Grow over the winter months until the plants begin to flower.
  3. Mow, hoe, or use a string trimmer to kill the crop in place. Allow the crop to decompose over the remainder of the season, and lightly work into the top few inches soil before spring planting.

Growing cover crop during the winter months will help build your soil for spectacular spring results!

It's Bare Root Season!

The months of January and February are bare root season.  It's the perfect time to plant deciduous fruit trees, taking advantage of the moist soil and the tree's dormancy. They can be easily planted, pruned and grafted.  We have an amazing selection of fruit trees with low chill hours just perfect for our climate.  In addtion, check out our selection of cane fruits and bare root perennial veggies.  They won't last long, so get yours now!  All trees are $34.99 unless marked.


Braeburn   Semi-Dwarf          Chill: 500 hrs       Rootstock: EMLA-111
Medium to large, oval with definite crown. Skin is green overlaid with stripe of dark crimson. Flesh is firm, crisp and very juicy. Mildly sweet tart, excellent flavor. Heavy producer. Stores well. Ripens: Late October into Early November

Anders     Semi-Dwarf              Chill: 500 hrs       Rootstock: Malus domestica
Medium to large. Greenish-yellow base overlaid with generous red striping. Crisp, white flesh is sweet with some tang, flavorful. Excellent for eating drying, baking, cooking.  Ripens: August into November.

Pink Lady     Semi-Dwarf        Chill: 400-500 hrs          Rootstock: EMLA-111
Hot climate apple from Western Australia. Blushing pink skin over green. Snappy tartness balances with a touch of crisp, sweet flavor. Good keeper. White flesh resists browning. Excellent for cooking and fresh eating. Ripens: Late October.


Shiro-Kaga (Ume)    Semi-Dwarf     Chill: 400 hrs     Rootstock: Mariana 26-24
Small fruit 3/4"- 1" diameter. User for pickling and medicinal purposes. Single white flowers have a spicy fragrance and bloom from late January to early February. Does well in mild-winter areas. Ripens: Mid-May.

HelenaSemi-Dwarf       Chill: 500 hrs       Rootstock: Krymnsk 1
Big and juicy, with deeper orange skin than most apricots. The flesh is firm and sweet, not mealy. Ideal for eating fresh.  Self-fertile. Freestone. Ripens: Early June.

BlenheimEZ Pick           Chill: 4-500 hrs    Rootstock: Lovell Peach
Extremely popular.  Medium to large. Skin soft yellow with yellow cheek.  Flesh pale orange, juicy, flavor delicious. Equally valuable for canning or drying. Ripens: Late June to Early July.


Ba-da Bing Semi-Dwarf          Chill: 650 hrs       Rootstock: Mahaleb  $24.99
Large. Bing like cherry. Dark red skin. Purplish red flesh is firm and sweet. Resistant to cracking. Self-fertile. Good pollinizer for other sweet cherries. Best known as "Self-Fertile Bing". Ripens late June, 1-2 weeks after Bing.


Pakistan Fruiting Mulberries BUSH   $49.99
The king of the fruiting mulberries producing 3.5- 5” maroon to black berries. Very sweet and flavorful with raspberry-like flavor.  Multi-month long fruiting season starting heavy in early summer and continuing to mid-summer. Cold hardy to USDA Zone 9. Prune bush to 5 – 10’.


Fantasia     Semi-Dwarf          Chill: 500 -600 hrs         Rootstock: Citation
Very large fruit. Bright red with bright yellow undercolor. Flesh yellow, firm, smooth textured, sweet, juicy and good quality. Freestone. Bears well in warmer winter areas. Also frost tolerant. Ripens: Mid - late July.

Snow Queen Semi-Dwarf       Chill: <300 hrs     Rootstock: Citation
Sweet, juicy, early season white fleshed freestone. Long time favorite in Southern California. Self fertile. Ripens: Late June, 2-3 weeks ahead of Babcock Peach.


Kieffer Improved  EZ Pick        Chill: 400 hrsRootstock: Pyrus communis
Large. Yellow-green skin blushed red. Coarse, crisp, juicy white flesh. Stores well. Self-fertile. A favorite in mild winter climates. Ripens: October - November.

Seckel  EZ Pick        Chill: 300 hrs       Rootstock: Pyrus communis
Medium to small. Round to bell-shaped. Skin smooth, yellow-brown suffused with russet red. Creamy white, good textured flesh, very sweet flavor. Good for preserving. Good for mild winter areas, but will set more fruit with more chill. Self-fertile. Ripens: Mid to late August.


Saturn EZ Pick       Chill: 250 hrs       Rootstock: Nemaguard
Fruit is medium to large, golden yellow skin and flesh. Excellent eating quality. Freestone. Massive bloomer with large double pink flowers with dark pink centers.  Ripens: Mid July


Izu   Chill: 100 hrs       Rootstock: Kaki Persimmon$49.99  SOLD OUT
Sets well on a dwarf-sized tree. Skin burnt orange. Fruit is sweet and juicy with a more complex flavor than Fuyu. Non-astringent.  Ripens: Late August to September.


Late Santa Rosa  Semi-Dwarf           Chill: 500 hrs       Rootstock: Krymnsk 1
Large. Purplish-crimson fruit with blue bloom. Firm flesh, deep amber flesh; rich, pleasing, tart flavor. Self-fertile. Ripens: Early August.

Inca  Semi-Dwarf           Chill: 250-300 hrs                   Rootstock: Mariana 26-24
Medium, heart-shaped tapering toward the tip. Skin is a beautiful golden color and when ripe, it has brilliant magenta specks and a magenta blush around the stem end. Its flesh is rich, dense and crisp. Unique flavor with a good balance of tartness and sweetness. Introduced by Luther Burbank in 1919. Ripens: Early to mid-Auguat.flesh; rich, pleasing, tart flavor. Self-fertile. Ripens: Early August.


Pinapple    Semi-Dwarf           Chill: 100 hrs     Rootstock: Provence Quince
Large. Smoot golden, yellow skin. White flesh with slight pineapple flavor. Good for cooking. Pie fillings. Candies and jelly/ Some like this one for fresh eating.  The #1 comercial Quince in California. Heavy producer. Originated with Luther Burbank in 1899. Self Fertile. Ripens: September.



UC 157
This robust, disease resistant variety from the University of California produces smooth, green diameter spears a bit earlier than other varieties and does best in well-drained soils.

Jersey Knight
Has the highest and most consistent yields of all the newer varieties. These predominantly male plants put all their energy into producing beautiful, 7-9 inch spears, rather than berries and seeds. The spears are tender, succulent, and bright green with purple tips. Plants are vigorous and resistant to rust, fusarium, and root and crown rot and Cercospora.


  • Chester
  • Olallie


  • Misty
  • Jewel
  • Sharpblue


  • Thornless


  • Chardonnay
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Flame Seedless


  • Autumn Bliss


  • Chandler
  • Seascape


Lead-Safe Gardening in Oakland Soil

A recent report by Reuters on dangerously high lead levels in children in many areas of the country surpassing Flint, Michigan, has gone viral, including this article in the East Bay Times. The Fruitvale District of Oakland was named as one of those areas.  

While Flint's issues have to do with the pipes that carry drinking water, Oakland's lead issues (from a gardening perspective) have to do with lead levels in soil. Safe gardening practices will reduce the risk of exposure to soil borne lead in the food you grow.  Check out the excellent article in Edible East Bay for more information.   Here are some of the recommendations from the article:

  • Get your soil tested. The Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program’s website and has links to both a directory of certified assessors as well a list of accredited labs, including costs and other information:
  • Make/add compost to your soil. This will help raise your soil pH (ideally to pH 6.5–7.5), making it less acidic and minimizing the solubility of lead. In addition, organic matter will bind with the lead in your soil, making less of it available to you or your plants.
  • Remediate your soil with a high phosphate fertilizer such as fish bones or bone meal on an annual basis. Lead readily binds with phosphorus to create pyromorphite, a compound that is not readily bioavailable.
  • Add a layer of mulch to your soil. Mulch will have the same effects as compost, plus it will provide a physical barrier between bioavailable lead and your plants, shoes, and small hands.
  • Plant a groundcover to provide a barrier between you and the soil.
  • Grow ornamentals or crops offering edible fruit and/or seeds, since these parts will not accumulate significant concentrations of lead.
  • Always wash anything from your garden before you eat it. Greens may not contain lead in their tissues, but lead can splash up onto them when you water your garden. Always peel root crops. Consider filling one raised garden box with clean topsoil to host your roots crops.
  • Practice basic hygiene. This includes frequent washing of hands, tools, toys, and other items that come in contact with dirt. Vacuum regularly and take your gardening shoes off outside.
  • Repair/replace any peeling paint frequently and do so pursuant to local regulations. Remove any scrap metal that might contain lead—such as old lead pipes, roof flashing, and batteries—and safely dispose of them.

Stop by Pollinate for more great gardening tips, and subscribe to our Newsletter for notification of our next Lead-Safe Gardening workshop.






Conflicting Interests

We went out to prune the seedheads off of the Fennel in the parking strip before we have an explosion of fennel seedlings. But then we saw this. The plant is covered in aphids and, feasting on the aphids, Ladybugs and Ladybug Larvae.

So if we prune off the seedheads, we are removing both the Ladybugs and their Food source. If you want predatory animals to protect your crops, you have to maintain sources of food, water and shelter for them. We'll leave the fennel alone and enjoy the benefits of a strong ladybug population.